CHEETAHS prop Boan Venter has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Edinburgh, according to reports in South Africa. If confirmed, the deal would see the 23-year-old loosehead join Richard Cockerill’s squad in February, in time to provide cover during the Six Nations Championship.

Edinburgh have been well covered in the position when all their players are available to them, with Rory Sutherland and Pierre Schoeman competing for the No 1 jersey, and Jamie Bhatti and Sam Grahamslaw providing back-up. But last week Bhatti was allowed to leave for Bath with immediate effect, while Sutherland is first choice for Scotland so will be absent for much of February and March. And, at 21, Grahamslaw is not yet ready to start a run of games, having so far made only three appearances off the bench.

The need for at least one new signing in the position is all the more pressing because Schoeman will become eligible for Scotland in the summer after spending three years living here. Venter, who has also been the subject of interest from Leicester and Gloucester, should find it easy to fit into an Edinburgh squad which already contains a number of his compatriots.

The Cheetahs and their fellow-South-Africans the Southern Kings competed in the PRO14 for the last three seasons, but were unable to take part when the competition got underway again after lockdown this autumn because of Covid-related travel restrictions. They have now effectively been frozen out of the PRO14 for the longer term with the announcement last week of the new Rainbow Cup competition, which will see four other South African sides - the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers - compete with the PRO14’s current 12 teams. 

The Rainbow Cup is seen as the precursor to the full integration of those four sides into the PRO14 - which will be renamed the PRO16 - from season 2021-22. Edinburgh have declined to comment on the reports linking them to Venter.